Yom Kippur 5781 – a poem by Richard Fox

Yom Kippur 5781

 I.
I have cancer.
Daven*  in the infusion room.
Power port accessed. 
Blood tubes filled. 

A soul with a pole: fluids, Benadryl, magnesium, Erbitux.
Lean back, heated recliner, warm blanket.

The holiest day of the year.
Worship on my cell phone. 
Rabbi, Cantor chant into silence.

An aide brings chicken soup.
My fast, forbidden.

Rabbi delivers her sermon.
A spoonful for each reflection. 
A sin reversed like failed intentions. 
Pound the chest. Repent.


 II.
The man in the adjacent cubby, short of breath, keens.
Nurses take his vitals, wash his head with a cold cloth.
His voice cracks with pain, fear. 
Let me go home. A cooing, calm reply, 
You have a fever. 
It may be an infection, it may be the chemo. 
They’ll order tests in the E/R. Get this under control.

EMT’s summoned. 
I imagine––one nurse massages his shoulders,
another holds his hand, a third readies his bags.
The crash cart rolls by, parked out of his view.
EMT’s arrive. A gurney with its own pole.


 III.
The Yizkor* service. 
Tears,
 the tom-tom for the liturgy, 
absent from Temple.

I cannot offer tissues, 
jealous,
eyes dry,
scared of what could make me cry.


*  Daven: Chant prayers

* Yizkor: Remembrance (Memorial) Service for the dead


When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, Richard Fox focuses on cancer from the patient’s point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. He is the author of four poetry collections and the winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize.  – smallpoetatlarge.com

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s